Date: 21st October 2007 at 12:10pm
Written by:

Dam and blast. 30 minutes writing a match report and just as I was about to press submit in my admin, I had a power cut and lost the lot! Right, lets try again…!

In a perverse kind of way, I enjoyed the game yesterday. Some say I’m negative but I just think I’m a realist and in reality I expected nothing from the game yesterday so basically wanted to go down and be entertained. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted nothing more than a Villa win but just didn’t see it being on the cards. In the first 25 minutes we were certainly at our game and gave Manchester United something to think about. We attacked well and the first goal from a Gabby Agbonlahor header, set up by a lovely cross from Ashley Young was well deserved. Villa carried on attacking with speed and presented Luke Moore with a guilt edged chance to go two ahead, unfortunately (as I, like most Villa fans want to see this local lad make good) he once again fluffed his lines. That miss seemed to wake Manchester United up and Villa then just faced wave after wave of attacking play.

When Manchester United step up a gear, they REALLY step up a gear. You can’t compare Villa to Manchester United, you can however look at the results other teams have got against them, or should that be the nature of the losses the other teams have suffered?

Aston Villa 1 – 4 Man Utd
Man Utd 4 – 0 Wigan
Birmingham 0 – 1 Man Utd
Man Utd 2 – 0 Chelsea
Everton 0 – 1 Man Utd
Man Utd 1 – 0 Sunderland

Does that suggests we did not make a good account of ourselves? Not sure, on their day no one will touch United and certainly not when down to 9 men! I wanted to see Villa take the game to Man Utd and to be fair, they tried their best most of the time to do that. Trouble is it was men against boys. The likes of Rooney, given space, will rip you apart and with Zat Knight standing admiring the silky skills of Scholes, Rooney, Nani and Giggs yesterday, the likes of Shrek got plenty of space. Martin Laursen is a good defender but not so good that he can cover both defensive positions, Mellberg was once again out of position on the right as we don’t have a right-back, something that has shocked many a Villa fan this season. Despite Olof ‘the bearded one’ being stretched, he made a few very telling interceptions and tackles, if not the score could have been worse.

I hate to admire Manchester United, but unfortunately just can’t help doing so. It doesn’t matter if they are 2 up, 3 up or 4 up, they still keep coming at you, they argue every decision against, they hate to lose the ball and work hard and aggressively to get it back. They are everything that most other teams aren’t, natural born winners. Then again, they have the right players playing in the right positions, that helps.

What I liked about Villa yesterday – apart from the once again outstanding crowd (and don’t get on your high horses about people leaving, it was the rugby world cup final, it isn’t the fans faults that we were forced down at a stupid kick off time of 5.15!) – was that despite going down to nine men, they didn’t give up. There is a spirit in the team, I’m just not convinced there is the ability. Lets look at it:

We don’t have a right back so Olof Mellberg (head and shoulders above Zat Knight and Curtis Davies) is put there despite not liking that position.
Zat Knight is not a step up from what we already had and Curtis Davies, being bought for a fee of over £8million has to be content on the bench following an abysmal start to his Villa career (with many a Baggy fan laughing at the price we’ve paid – only time will tell if they will be laughing on the other side of their faces in years to come with this young player)
Stiliyan Petrov, bought for over £8million, has been so poor an inexperienced young academy lad (Osbourne) was preferred over him yesterday.
Then you have Nigel Hokey Cokey, it didn’t matter to us that he was ill disciplined whilst at West Ham, but now he is a Villa player it matters lots and despite some fans protestations, I thought he deserved his yellow cards yesterday. He should know as well as anyone else you can’t lunge in, especially against a top four team. When the going gets tough, the likes of Barry don’t start making stupid mistakes like that and NRC has to learn that sort of performance can’t be tolerated.
And what of our star striker? Which one I hear you ask, well John Carew is fast becoming a sick note, since he has been with us he has seldom looked fit and up for it, and then there is Marlon Harewood who isn’t even on the bench, I assume he is injured although can’t recall reading anything. Lets face it, even if he was fit, he would not have been the answer yesterday, he was a panic buy and not a good one.

This isn’t Villa building and moving forward, no matter how much we want it to be. We are a mid table team and will finish mid table unless, miracle of miracles we do spend wisely and well in January. At this rate we don’t need a five year plan, we need a ten year one as we are a country mile away from the top five.

Even in the warming up there was a huge difference, we seem to play at it, Manchester United were split into groups, well drilled and totally professional. They have everything down to the last detail set out. Must admit it was interesting watching Ronaldo showboating in the warm up, we might love to hate him, but sod me that boy has some skills!

We can blame the ref for yesterday all we like, teams like Manchester United do get the decisions but then again we can’t say we were exactly hard done by last season with the amount of penalties we got! NRC and Scott Carson both deserved to walk, if an opponents player had made the same challenges that they did we’d have been baying for their blood.

So all in all, not a good day at the office, maybe once again the footballing lessons dished out by United will be heeded, what is there is the fighting spirit so with that we’ve got to get maximum points against Bolton (away) next weekend, take Derby (at home) to the cleaners and then get maximum points against Middlesbrough (away). I’m not even going to start to think of our local derby yet, my heart is still too frail following the valiant but ultimately fruitless defence of our Rugby World Cup crown last night. Much like the Villa, the desire and effort was there but they were just outclassed.

Oh, and the best part of the game for me? Ronaldo was about to come on as a sub and my mate Ian said ‘oh no, we are in done for now’. We were 4-1 down and when I asked ‘don’t you think we are done for already’ he laughed and said ‘good point but now we are REALLY done for’. You can’t beat the gallows humour of football!

No point in ratings for the game I don’t think, if anyone wants to put some in the article comments, fire away!